Archive for category Business Marketing

Converting Prospects – Does your Business spend enough time on this?

How do you provide your buyers with a complete understanding of what you do, what you sell and why your products or services are better than the competition? 

Too many businesses are already generating all the leads and prospects they need but are unwittingly losing up to 90% of opportunities to convert them into sales.

As an aide memoire it is important to consider the following:-

  • The buyer is more intererested in themselves than you.
  • Map your sales process. A step by step process to convert enquiries and leads into sales. Build trust/understand the buyers goals/create certainty that your product meets their needs/ overcome fear of making the wrong decision/officially confirm the sale.
  • There is value in trying to convert old and cold prospects. It may be time to approach another prospect in the target company.
  • Qualify leads so you don’t waste time. If a prospect isn’t ready to buy don’t give them to the sales team. Provide useful mailshots and wait your time.
  • Spend enough time researching the buyer’s needs, then offer the solution to win the sale. It is important to listen and find the solution for the prospect.
  • Offer content and information that educates, regular newsletters are the beginning of the process.
  • Fish where the big fish are, don’t waste time trying to convince people to buy when they are clearly not interested or ready to commit.
  • Establish a no communication deadline to remove redundant prospects from your pipeline.
  • Follow up your initial call a few days later asking questions, eg, have you had a chance to go over the information and make a decision? 80% of all significant sales occur only after a minimum of 5 follow ups. Following up will apply pressure and open up dialogue to discover questions and concerns that the prospect may have.
  • Have a list of scripted answers readily available for every possible objection/query.
  • Remind them that you have a solution that is going to make them more money.
  • Don’t adopt a one size fits all approach, target and segment, focus on the best prospects first.

It’s all very obvious but there is tremendous value in reflecting on the above and evaluating your conversion process.

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Understanding Marketing Costs against Customer Wins

SME’s say marketing is critical to growth, but measuring return on investment (ROI) holds them back.  Has it held you back?

This was the question posed to members at our recent Business Exposure Group meeting.

If ROI is difficult to measure for a marketing activity, then don’t do it, was the view of one member.  Others felt that they did unplanned marketing activities with no certainty of ROI and not included in the marketing budget.  Research shows that businesses that develop and use a marketing plan go on to outperform those that don’t, by an average of 30% and every £1 spent on advertising benefits an SME eight times as much as it would benefit a larger company (Deloitte).

Marketing is important to SME’s but, lack of budget, lack of expertise and time are barriers.  Some of our members see marketing as a cost, not an investment in the future, and only 20% of SME’s believe that increased marketing spend will be their path to growth.

However, those businesses which seem to be flying are marketing led.  They have the marketing budget at the top of their business agenda – if you are not spending you are not gaining customers!

Tracking where the enquiries are coming from is crucial.  It is easier to track ROI from a digital campaign rather than a traditional one.  Always ask an enquirer where and how they found out about your business.  Is your record keeping system good enough to make sense of where to spend your money?  Understanding, ROI is important, but some felt that measuring ROI was futile because most marketing is about creating long term brand recognition.

68% of SME’s say it is difficult to get customers to take action as a result of marketing, questioning how much should be invested.

Consider a ROI formula? ­­­­___ROI ___­­­_  x 100 as a percentage, so you can work out

INVESTMENT

 

whether one medium generates 15% and another 50%, then clearly you know where to invest your money.  When you spend £1 on marketing how much should you expect in return?  A good return thought by the members was in the region of 5/1.

If a marketing activity can’t be measured perfectly, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, but don’t throw money across the whole marketing mix without deciding quickly what works and what doesn’t.

All the members concluded that they needed to spend more time on the question of ROI when glibly doing ‘appropriate’ marketing.

 

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Twitter – What business can we get from it?

Since the rise of social media, new rules have had to be ‘drawn up’ on etiquette and proper usage, especially when it comes to businesses.

It’s not just about the content you post, but also how you present your account, who you interact with, and how you interact with them. Even if you master all that, you then need to be able to ensure that not only is your account visible, but also feels like an integrated part of your company, rather than a marketing tool that’s been sewed on because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

With regards to your activity on Twitter, i.e. who to follow and engage in conversations with, consider these vital tips:

  • You need to follow customers, suppliers, peers, and competitors
  • Find key people in your industry and connect them to you network
  • Organise whom you follow and don’t follow everyone who follows you
  • Identify keywords as well as the experts in your industry. Search with search.twitter.com and search a key term.
  • Once you identify the right people, look at whom they are following and who is following them as your potential pool of people you can tap into.
  • Update your profile picture and twitter background to show your branding – tell people what you do, explain how you help, and show a little business personality
  • Twitter is so much more than a sales marketing tool – it’s also good for recruitment – follow and engage with your next potential key salesman.

Then it’s all about making sure Twitter feels like an organic, integrated part of your business. To do this, create a twitter-landing page and publicise your Twitter account by adding “Follow me on Twitter” into your professional communications.

To see how well you have integrated your brand name and to connect with more relevant people, search for your business name so you can engage with everyone that searches for you, and you can see first hand how visible you are, as well as responding to any negative comments out in the public domain if necessary.

However if you don’t have time to use Twitter daily, then set up an automated feed and send it to your Twitter account. Doing so populates your feed with fresh content when you don’t have time, and there are many 3rd party applications such as HootSuite and TweetDeck that can do this.

The use of 3rd party apps is vital to using Twitter successfully, in the same way that petrol is vital to run your car.

Above all, using Twitter successfully is all about honing in on the general tweets that are relevant to your area of interest, and then acting upon them. Think of it as the radio – when you turn on the radio you don’t fret about the 24 hours of broadcasting that you missed yesterday, you just focus on what’s playing now.

The same is true of Twitter – act upon what’s happening now.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Can our Tweets help get business out of Twitter?

Twitter – What can anyone really say in 140 characters?

Aside from being snide about whatever happens to be on TV or divulging pockets of minutia about your everyday life, Twitter can be a remarkably useful business tool. The 140 characters and 2.7 seconds to get attention have freed us all to be really focused on a succinct message.

However Twitter only works for your business if you work to use Twitter properly. But how do you do this? Let’s take a look at some do’s, don’ts and handy tips for the business use of Twitter.

Firstly, the use of Twitter should be seen as part of branding, and act as a seed for your business name. It’s for this reason that the Twitter user within the company must be someone who is knowledgeable about the issues you are raising; otherwise the tweeting itself can seem rather aimless.

There may be a lot of talk on Twitter but it may sometimes seem like it’s not actually going anywhere, so is it just someone filling up the day?

It’s imperative the content of tweets are relevant, while not being too uptight. Focus on these key points:

  • Many businesses struggle to find topics. They take their knowledge for granted – disseminate it.
  • With effort you can figure out topics that spark real interest. Brainstorm 5-7 conversation topics and then a list of 10 more things within each category – this will give you a supply of tweets.
  • The best twitter topics for business are messages that provide practical solutions to problems your potential customers face every day.
  • Link to information that aligns you with the industry you represent
  • Promote your blogs, video and email marketing, as well as key people in your network
  • Retweet information that shows you support allies and gets you noticed
  • Use # to highlight specific target topics, people and conversations
  • Use Twitter to show your fun side and personality and to create immediacy and urgency
  • Above all, define your purpose and goal – if the only reason you are on Twitter is to drive traffic to your website then you need to rethink your strategy. It can do so much more than that.

Generally, the right way to promote your business on Twitter is to participate – talk about new happenings at your business, mention clients and people you are collaborating with, and pay attention to your followers and engage in conversation.

The wrong way is to always talk about your business. Twitter is not about selling, it’s about engaging first, and a sale may come from it.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Customer Satisfaction – What state of mind do customers have of your business?

In modern business there’s increased competition, crowded markets, lesser product differentiation and flatter sales.

So measuring customer satisfaction is key. It reportedly costs five to eight times as much to get a new customer than to hold onto new ones.

So why not operate a measurement system for customer satisfaction and find out what your customers expect from you?

Firstly, don’t just watch sales volumes or rely on a sales rep determining your customer’s state of mind. Also, don’t just track the frequency of complaints or look at ageing debt.

Implement a survey via mail, e-mail, or over the phone and rate experiences on a weighted scale (1 out of 5 etc.). Ensure to repeat this process to see how your customers experience changes over time.

Consider these factors:

  • Who is responsible for implementing a system – sales and marketing.
  • Management must champion the initiative.
  • Compare your own customer satisfaction with your competitors.
  • Engage all employees.
  • Inform your customers about the changes made due to the survey. Its  important to communicate.

Satisfaction can be based on:-

  • Quality
  • Business relationship
  • Price
  • The Service and Product meeting or exceeding customer expectations

Did you know? A 5% increase in loyalty can increase profit by more than 25%.

A very satisfied customer is six times more likely to be loyal than a satisfied customer.

Only 4% of dissatisfied customers actually bother to complain, and on average that same dissatisfied customer is likely to tell nine other people about it.

In comparison, satisfied customers will tell five other people on average about the good treatment they received.

You also need to consider the following:

  • Are your products less than advertised?
  • Are employees making promises they can’t keep?
  • Do you know why customers prefer another brand over yours?
  • Do you get customers to compare and contrast?
  • What is the technology expectation? – E.G. Mobile phones are constantly evolving.
  • Conduct a Customer Satisfaction Survey on a regular basis and look for:
  •    Overall satisfaction: How satisfied are you with ……
  •     Loyalty Measure: Would you recommend us to…
  •     Intention to repurchase: Do you intend to repurchase…

Here are 6 thoughts for putting together a customer satisfaction programme:

  1. Who should be interviewed? The end user, the manager or the directors or all?
  2. What should be measured? Put yourself in the customers mind-set – what do they consider important?
  3. How should the interview be carried out?
  4. How should satisfaction be measured?
  5. What should the measurement mean?
  6. How to use the survey to the greatest effect?

It’s debatable whether these should be anonymous or not.

Another strategy is to identify the best company in your sector and set your benchmark against them.

There are links between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction as happy employee’s work harder, providing greater customer satisfaction.

If a survey is right for your business, then your customer will in-turn expect positive changes to come from it. Most surveys just sit gathering dust. Be sure to communicate quick wins. The newsletter can be a good starting point and turn your customers into very satisfied customers.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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How do you value corporate entertaining in 2012?

Most companies are still motivated to entertain their existing and new customers as a way of nurturing relationships and ultimately boosting profit but many find themselves restricted by budget, time and resources, especially during times of recession. The dilemma facing any business owner wishing to improve their connections in today’s economy is to work out which events or functions are going to bring financial returns to the business and which will be fruitless.

So how do you make corporate entertainment worth the time and expenditure and how do you measure the value it has created?

Entrepreneurs should not automatically dismiss all corporate entertainment experiences as worth it just because they are ‘building’ relationships with either their customers or their employees. A return on investment is essential. For every £1k spent on corporate entertainment, the business should be looking for a return of at least £5k over and above what is already coming in.

Organising corporate functions or events is a good way of cementing relationships, enticing new ones and raising brand awareness but don’t do it on the cheap – it needs to be memorable.

It’s important to set a budget for entertaining and stick to it. Look at individual customers and assess the net profit they contribute to the business and how this can be increased. When it comes to the invitations, get the right balance of new and current customers.
Existing, happy customers can boost the confidence of prospective clients and are likely to say the right things at the event to improve your profile but pick your guests carefully. It’s also important to fill empty spaces with the right people not friends to ensure you maximise your investment so it’s always worth sending out the invites well in advance of an event.

When it comes to holding or attending corporate events don’t just send the sales team – the owner should be present to promote strong, genuine relationships.

Spectator sports are among the most popular corporate events as well as golf days, races, concerts and awards dinners. As with all entertaining, it’s essential to be clear about the objectives which should be strongly linked to long-term corporate goals as this will have an impact on the outcome.  But clearly a memorable event will increase your access to a customer over the following months, and then it is up to you to make the most of it.

This article was taken from a discussion at a Business Exposure Group event.

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Elements of a successful business website

As more and more customers use the internet to access products and services, building a good website has never been more important. Businesses should never underestimate the value of good website design and user-friendly navigation when it comes to building their reputation.

Gone are the days when customers solely relied upon recommendations via word of mouth. In today’s marketplace, many of your customers may never have heard of you until they enter search terms for the service they require into the internet and are led to your website.
As a result, your website is often now the first contact they will make with your company and it needs to be as helpful, striking and informative as possible.

As a business, your website must act as a sales funnel if it is to bring you increased custom and profit. A successful website is a gold mine of information containing powerful, relevant and useful facts which are of benefit to your customers.
It should offer more than a visitor can absorb in one visit and act as a continuing source of advice and guidance. You need great free content – which can spread virally.

Good content attracts larger audiences and creates credibility. This the new marketing expense. Do you know why customers would be interested in your site? Identify the unique benefits you offer and base your written content around these core issues.

Many businesses fall into the trap of using their website as a free promotional tool, advertising themselves and their services to potential customers. The best websites, however, deliver what the visitor wants to read and provides free, genuine advice which makes their lives easier.

A good business website will keep visitors signed in. Many websites have links that take visitors away.

Visibility is key to developing a successful website. Businesses should register with lots of search engines to maximise the chances of being ‘seen’ and fully utilise social media.

How important is SEO in the creation of a website?  

While there are still people who search for a tradesman in local directories, most customers nowadays turn to a search engine to provide them with a list of options. Businesses which want to maximise opportunities and attract more customers should aim to enhance their position in a Google search using keywords.

Once you have identified the keywords which are applicable to your industry, use them liberally on your site and preferably in headings. Competition can be very strong when it comes to keywords, especially if your business offers a common product or service, so it is better to find something more specific to your business which will give you a better shot at reaching higher rankings.

Web design – Simplicity is the key

Web design works best when pictures and text state the obvious. Remember, websites are used by your customers and should be constructed in a way that makes their life easier. So that it gives them a good visitor experience.

Good website design provides web-users with instant information. Web users are notoriously impatient and will lose interest with too much text and busy pages.

Businesses should respond to queries quickly and utilise the unique information available for future marketing purposes by gathering visitor data and feedback. This can be sourced through online surveys or newsletter subscriptions.

Using a website optimiser will enable you to ascertain which content on your site users respond to best, to improve your conversion rates. Businesses also have the option of testing different landing pages via pay per click campaigns for the same purpose but in different styles, to see which message works best.

At the end of the day. Stop simply advertising yourself and deliver what your visitors want to read.

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